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Friday, October 31, 2014

God Wants

Why does God want?  It is clear that God does want, because otherwise why would He* have created the world?  A changeless, totally transcendent being, perfect and complete unto itself, would not have bothered with any of it.  Or us.

So did He create the world because He wanted to, or  for some other reason?  If He did it because He was compelled to, He wouldn’t be all powerful.  There would be some greater power.  Of course, He could have wanted to create the whole world for just some part of it, but had to create the whole thing because the part of the world He wanted couldn’t exist without the rest of it. This would be a limitation on His omnipotence.  But of course, if He made the world as it is such that He had to create the whole world just so He could get some part of it, then He must have wanted the whole thing anyway. 

So He created the world because He wanted to.  But this raises the further question:  Why does God want what He wants?  Why does God want the world as it is, or at least, as it is becoming? And this raises the question:  What exactly is the world, anyway?   He would have created the world exactly as He wanted it, or such that the world would become exactly as He wanted it. (And He would want the process of its becoming, also.  And indeed, it may be the process of its ever becoming that He wants.)  

Thus those who believe the world to be other than it is, who deny the results of the study of the world, of science, are doing themselves, and their God, a disservice.  Why do they want the world to be other than it really is, or is becoming?  This would be wanting something their God does not want.   Or, perhaps it is more correctly phrased: Why do they want to believe the world is other than it is, since they also want the world to be exactly what it is?    Why do those who want to view the world as other than He created it want to see it that way? 

But of course, they are also God.  So why do they, who are also God, want to see the world as other than it is?  Why do they want to live under a delusion?  They do gain companionship.  And a shared purpose.  But if they live under a delusion, their companions are delusional. And so too their purpose. Or do they really want to live under delusion?

But perhaps it is just part of their becoming.  And part of their becoming is becoming aware of their true nature, and awakening to themselves.

(Of course, by denying the world's true nature, by acting under delusion, they act to make the world other than what it might be. They act to make it something else. But the tools of delusion can only make the world something less than it could be.)

So how do they see it, who deny the world is what it is? For thus they also deny the true nature of God, of which His creation is a reflection.  They deny they are God, of course.  But they  do not deny that what they do, and what they want to do,  is God’s will. Indeed, they are often emphatic that what they do is God's will.

But then, if they are doing God’s will, they are agents of God. And so they see themselves.  Indeed, they often see themselves as the agents of God. But they act on an authority, which they do not question, though such authority is based on a dated, and erroneous view of God and His creation.  They have the will of God, but not the consciousness, not the awareness.  They pretend to the power, but not the responsibility.  They do not ask the why of what they do.  They do not ask why God wills it.

But they, too, are part of the process of God's becoming.  So why does God want them to do what they want? We are taught that God acts out of love, yet many of them, who imagine themselves the agents of God,  act out of hate and anger, and claim that  this is God's will.

What is God, and His world, becoming?  What does He want to become?  And what does He want His world, and those in it, to become?

___________________________

*Some may object to the use of the pronoun 'He'  in referring to God. They may substitute their preferred pronoun. But the same question arises if we use 'She,' or 'It.'  Why did She create the world, as it is, as the world has become and as it is becoming? Why does She want, what She wants?  Or Why did It create the world, as it is, and as the world has become and is becoming?  Why does It want, what It wants? And the same question arises if 'I' or 'You' is substituted.

10:28 pm est

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stewardship

Man is steward to God’s creation.  This is clearly man’s most important task, yet what religion really makes a point of this? (This renders these religions suspect as divine word.) According to the Bible, God created man to dress and keep the Garden of Eden, (his only task,) (Ge 2:15) but over the earth (Ge 1:28) man was given dominion.  Man was commanded to subdue the earth. Man was also commanded to replenish the earth. This seems to be interpreted to mean ‘replenish with more people,’ although the previous phrase is, “be fruitful and multiply,” so for that it seems needlessly redundant. Indeed, stewardship often seems secondary to ruthless exploitation.

Christ has a few parables about stewardship, but they are not usually taken as central to Christianity.

And man is failing in his care of the earth.  The seas are overfished, and turning acidic.   And rising.  The whole planet is warming. Air and water are increasingly polluted.  Soil is increasingly depleted.  Animals are going extinct at an alarming rate, as their habitat is destroyed.

There are too many people, and they consume and pollute too much.  Yet the religious, especially the fundamentalists, hold to the admonishment to be fruitful and multiply, though that was given thousands of years ago, when man was still light upon the land. 

Now mankind is a burden the earth can no longer easily carry, and getting heavier with each passing day.   The question becomes:  Which will happen first?  Will man restrain his appetite in time?  Or will he drive his ecosystem to collapse around him, leaving him bereft and starving for resources?  And what can happen then, save the Apocalypse?

There are those awaiting the Apocalypse:  Why worry about conserving the world, when God is going to trash it anyway?  They don’t think that maybe He has to trash it because they ruined it.

So what can the alternative be?  First attitudes must be changed.  Things must be redefined.  The notion of property, for instance, must be changed.  It can no longer be ‘that which is owned,’ with the implication that the ‘owner’ has the option to exploit or even destroy, but must become ‘that which is used,’ that the ‘user’ has the obligation to conserve what he uses for others both in the present and the future.

The notion of a limit to growth, both in terms of resources consumed and number of people the earth can support, must become current.  This will be difficult, perhaps insuperable.  Everyone wants more, and with a pie that isn’t growing, this can only come at the expense of others.  People will want more, and want more children.  Many will point to the dictates of their religion, and refuse to limit their own behavior. (After all, they are the chosen.  The rest of the world is- inferior.)

Pursuits of the spirit, specifically meditation and the training of the mind, must be encouraged.  Indeed, they should become a part of everyone’s formal education.  The mind must be taught to be able to make itself happy, instead of anxious over whether or not it has this or that possession.    People must learn to make do with fewer material things, and more non-material things.  They must ‘store up treasures in heaven,’ and to value themselves, and each other, more.  The cycle of material desire must be broken.

But this is just the beginning.  Active steps must also be taken.    

10:33 pm est

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Cycle of Desire

Most religions tout the promise of a heaven. It is the reward of the faithful, after they die, for their life of faith. And the faithful believe this heaven is a desirable place, and that they, the faithful, desire it. 

 

But is it a place?  After all, no matter where you are, happiness is really a state of mind.  Granted, some places are better than others, but unless your mind is happy, the place you're in really doesn't matter.  A person can be miserable in what, to others, would be paradise. 

 

Of course, paradise can be hell.  Consider the parable of the man who loved to fish:  A man loved to fish, more than anything else.  He died and went to what seemed to be heaven, a marvelous resort, with numerous staff to attend him, where everyday he could fish. He did.  And every day he caught a big fish, which he brought back to the resort to be prepared for his supper.  And this went on.  But eventually the man who loved to fish grew tired of always catching the big fish, and questioned his host.  His host smiled, and asked him what made him think he had actually gone to heaven.   

 

But the same question can be asked of any heaven which consists of ostensible wish fulfillment:  Do you really want all your wishes granted?  After all, the granting of wishes, particularly material wishes, is really not the point. The point of getting what you want is what getting what you want is supposed to provide, which is pleasure, and happiness.  But pleasure and happiness are states of mind, and can be gotten directly, without the intervention of material desires, (as long as reasonable necessities are taken care of.)  And indeed, the granting of material desires is irrelevant, because it is merely the conditioning of the mind which causes the mind to respond with happiness and pleasure at the granting of its desires. 

 

But the mind's pleasure at the granting of desire is transitory.  The mind soon returns to the (less happy) state it was in before the desire was fulfilled.  And so it must manufacture a new desire, which it then seeks to fulfill so that it can once again experience the glow of pleasure that it experiences in its fulfillment.  This is the cycle of desire which the devotees of Buddhism are instructed to extinguish.  (The cycle of desire is not always obvious.  There are people who are happy being miserable.  For them the cycle of the formation and frustration of their desires makes them happy.)

 

So it is really not the granting of desire which the point.  It is the pleasure, the happiness, of the mind directly which is the point.  And this is the goal of certain forms of meditation, to train the mind to directly experience pleasure and happiness. 

 

But this is arduous. These forms of meditation can demand hours of practice every day.  The mind resists perpetual happiness.  The experience of pleasure and happiness is, in its way, stressful, and the mind wearies of it, returning to its more normal state.

 

So what of the various heavens of perpetual bliss?  Well, if people truly desired it, would they not seek theirs, their bliss, out in this life, like those who practice meditation, instead of occupying themselves with the cares and worries of this world?  After all, it is more state of mind than place. And how better to show you are ready for such a state of mind, such a state of soul, after death than training yourself for it in this life?  Yet, people do not do this, instead clinging to the cycle of desire and its fulfillment. 

 

Is this then, people's true desire?  Or are people merely uninformed, poorly educated by those who themselves are misinformed, in getting what they truly want?  Consider Jannah, the Islamic heavens, various (high) degrees of wish fulfillment for the faithful.  Or the Christian heavens, qualities of perpetual bliss which the faithful, who can achieve these states of closeness to God, (as have many of their saints,) at least temporarily in this life, show no signs of actually doing.      

 

So perhaps, the cycle of desire and its fulfillment is their desire, and this world, then, their heaven.

8:52 pm est

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Perfect

We tend to think of God only in positives. Indeed, we tend to think of God as positively perfect. This naturally reinforces our own good feelings about ourselves, since we are also God.  We each believe this, that we are God, on the most primitive unconscious level.  And it is true. But when we view God in only positive superlatives, we imagine a distorted view of God.  And we flatter our inmost self, and present our conscious self with a distorted view of that self.    

It is more difficult to imagine the negative aspects of God, (who is all things,) since these must, on some level of unconsciousness, be understood as negative aspects of our self.  Thus, to admit that God is also responsible for the evil in the world, as a being responsible for all things, we must admit that we ourselves, being God,  are also responsible for this evil. Externalizing this responsibility, even to creating instead an alternative, external personage, a devil, and making it responsible for all evil, is one way out of our taking this personal responsibility.  When we deny that God is responsible for the evil in the world, we are absolving our own unconscious self.  Yet this evil is part of the world's perfection. 

This also works the other way.  It may be easy for us to admit to our human failings, but difficult to admit that God has these same failings.  That is because, on some level of the unconscious, we regard human failings as mere failings of appearance, or of circumstance,  and not the essential failings that they are.  Unconsciously, at the deepest level, since we are each God,  we regard ourselves as infallible, and perfect.  Thus, it is always a source of dissonance when our perfect plans, which after all always originate from, or always seem to originate from, or at the least always gain the approval , from our 'perfect' unconscious selves,  go awry.   Fallible appearance conflicts with perfect essence.

 This all arises from our imperfect understanding of perfect.  We tend to understand perfect as perfect in an appearance, that is, in the limited aspects which we can appreciate, rather in the complete and total essence which is truly required for something to be truly perfect. Thus, what is truly perfect may have the appearance of imperfection in our limited perspective.  That is we would judge what is truly perfect to be imperfect.  And conversely, we would judge what had the appearance of perfection to our limited perspective, yet which was truly imperfect, as perfect.  We would judge the perfect as imperfect, and the imperfect as perfect. 

Further, that which was truly perfect, such as God, we would imagine as perfect according to our limited imagining, but not according to the totality of truth.  But since a perfect God in essence would appear imperfect to that imagining, so imagining God as perfect in that limited sense implies the imagining of a God who is not truly perfect.  By imagining God to conform to our image of perfection, we result in a distorted image of a God who is imperfect.  

We think God as perfect.  We say God is perfect.  But a God conforming to our image of perfection would be imperfect.

 Of course, we cannot admit that this imagined God is imperfect.  We imagine our image of God is perfect, despite the fact that this image no longer corresponds to reality, the truly perfect God.  This results in idolatry, the worship of our imagining, rather than the true God.

Consider too that we, and our world, are imperfect, (even to our imperfect perceptions,) and therefore what we perceive, and conceive, as perfect is also actually imperfect.  But this imperfection is an aspect of perfection.  For consider, if everything had the seeming of perfection, the world would be maddeningly imperfect indeed.  Yet, this is what heaven is often imagined to be, a place terribly imperfect in essence because it was perfect according to our imperfect judgment.   

We imagine a perfect God without negative aspects.   We are thus at a loss to explain the darker aspects the of reality that is God's creation, which are equally necessary to its perfection.  It is the perfect creation of a perfect God, imperfect as it is. And imperfect as God is.

Of course, none of this means we must not cultivate our garden, in this best of all possible worlds. Nor does it mean we should not strive to improve it.

9:38 pm est

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ethics without God

To those who say that God, a God,  is necessary for the development of a moral, or ethical individual, the Chinese present numerous counter examples. The Chinese have developed a cultural ethic without the belief in monotheism. 

 This does not imply the absence of belief systems among the Chinese: 

"The largest group of religious traditions is the Chinese folk religion, which overlaps with Taoism, and describes the worship of the shen, a term describing local deities, heroes and ancestors and figures from Chinese mythology."...

Taoism dates back to the sage Laozi  in 6th century BCE China, and refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious concepts, of which 'non-action' and spontaneity might be considered the most important. Taoism, Daojiao, '(The) Way Teach(ing),' venerates no particular deity.

..." According to a survey conducted in 2010, hundreds of millions of people practice some kind of Chinese folk religions and Taoism; of these 754 million (56.2%) people practice Chinese ancestral veneration, only 215 million (16%) believing in the existence of ancestral shen." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_China

Shen*: (god, diety, spirit, mind)  seems  to be the term closest to 'God,' though no compound containing it seems to refer to 'The God'  The combined form tianshen, (tian: heaven, sky, nature, god)  yields "sky spirits."   There is also zhu: owner, master, God;  zhenzhu: true master,  tianzhu:  heavenly master.  (My guess is that the use of zhu as representing 'God,' is a relatively recent development, dating to the arrival of Christian missionaries in China in the 16th century.)  The very fact that there is no particular definitive term (one wouldn't refer to one's landlord as 'God,' ) suggests the concept of a monotheistic God was not as important in Chinese culture as in the West.  That is to say, the concept a monotheistic God was not, and is not, central to Chinese cultural and ethical development.  

What does seem to be important is the role of exemplar.  Role models are important, and numerous:  Parents, especially during the formative years, the rulers, and the wealthy, in the present, and in the past, the aristocracy.  Setting examples for others is a primary aspect of their leadership. They are thus not only expected to preach virtues, but to practice them in their daily lives.  

These role models do not exist in a vacuum, but in the context of a moral culture going back thousands of years.   Deities, heroes, ancestors, especially ones own ancestors, and figures from Chinese mythology all provide models.  But central to the development of this culture was the role of ancient sages, men who not only taught virtues, handing  down descriptions, cases of ethical dealing with various situations,  but also lived according to those virtues.   

The most important of these ancient sages was Confucius.  Confucius (Kongzi, or Kong Fuzi,) is thought to have been born in 551 BC.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius.  He was born to minor aristocracy, in the state of Lu, in northeast China, in what is now Shandong Province.  While he grew up in poverty, he gained reputation through his teachings of the value of proper conduct and righteousness, as well as for his practice of these virtues. Eventually, these values were recognized as useful by the ruling families of Lu, and he gained appointments and rose in the affairs of his state.  Seeking to strengthen the position of the ruling Duke of Lu over his hereditary vassals, he made enemies.  His successes were incomplete.  He went into exile at age 54, journeying about the neighboring kingdoms, expounding his teachings.  He returned to Lu when he was 68, where he spent his last years teaching to his disciples.

" One of the deepest teachings of Confucius may have been the superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behavior. His moral teachings emphasized self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules"...." His teachings rarely rely on reasoned argument and ethical ideals and methods are conveyed more indirectly, through allusion, innuendo, and even tautology.  His teachings require examination and context in order to be understood. " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius

Confucius was, and in many respects still is, the model role model.  His importance rather belies his relatively modest biography.  Indeed, he is today  an object not only of emulation, but veneration.  Allowances, however, are now made for his place and time, and the importance he placed on ritual and in preserving the feudal order he was a part of is less emphasized. (Although he may have been radical in this, pushing the idea of rulers who would "succeed to power on the basis of their moral merits instead of lineage.")  However, his ethical teachings are still held in great respect, and widely practiced.  These are based three linked ideas: li  doing the proper thing at the proper time, yi, the idea of reciprocity:  "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.  " and doing what is ethically best in a given situation, and ren, consisting of five virtues:  seriousness, generosity, sincerity, diligence and kindness. In order to properly act on these principles, the inner self must be cultivated.  Virtuous and sincere behavior begins with knowledge.  His major work, "The Analects," is prefaced with the Chinese character for 'study.'

An ethical culture, with an idea of goodness, righteousness, and propriety, existed prior to the development of monotheism.  It also exists in contemporary Chinese culture.

_____________________________

*Transliterations of  Chinese characters into Roman characters is problematic.  Although efforts to represent Chinese characters in Roman characters go back hundreds of years, it was really only in the 1950's that the modern  hanyu pinyin system was established. It has undergone several modifications since.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin It is especially inexact without the symbols for the  tones of the Chinese vowels, which typical fonts do not render.  For example,  'shen' has 4 different pronunciations.  In pinyin, it can have any of four different tonal symbols over the e.  Each tonal symbol is a different pronunciation and a different word, with a different meaning.  'Shen'  can represent fourteen or so different characters, each different words, with meaning ranging from  deep and profound to explain, from god and spirit to ooze to reach and to kidney and to other meanings, depending on the pronunciation and character.   

8:45 pm est

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Welcome God!

     For that is who You are.  Whether or not You choose to believe that You are God,
the One God, that of course is your divine prerogative.
     As for the reality, You are God, whether You want to be or not.  So Welcome!

Here You will find some answers to some questions You may have about Your divine nature, and the nature of Your creation.

     If you are
satisfied with your
life, your faith,your
God, you are
commanded not to
 read this.
But of course,
who am I to
 command You?

           
There is only God.

 God is known by
His works. 



Faith and belief comprise a very important part of our lives. A person's beliefs in many ways define who they are -- how they see themselves, what they want out of life, and more.

On this web site I'll offer a personal account of my own beliefs. I'll describe how my beliefs have changed my life in profound and exciting ways, and how I think they might change the lives of others.

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